Former Mountaineer is fixture for Padres

Jedd Gyorko was an effective football player at University High in Morgantown. He drew even more attention as a hit-happy infielder for the Hawks.

When Gyorko went the few blocks from his house to West Virginia University, he became a baseball fixture with the Mountaineers.

Jedd Gyorko has been installed as San Diego’s second baseman.

Jedd Gyorko has been installed as San Diego’s second baseman.

By 2010, the blockish 5-foot-10, 200-pound third baseman was one of college baseball’s best hitters. He made solid contact. His strikeouts were few and his extra base hits were many.

At the end of the Mountaineer season, Gyorko was rated as one of the premier infielders in all of college baseball and a probable high draft selection by major league baseball that June.

It was the San Diego Padres that made Gyorko a second-round draft selection. Gyorko was a shortstop for the Mountaineers. He would be a third baseman in the Padres organization.

The summer of 2010 saw Gyorko play for two different Class A Rookie League teams. He began his play for pay days in Eugene, Oregon and completed his first professional season at Fort Wayne in the Midwest League. With a combined batting average of .302 at those two outposts, Gyorko had proven he could wield a wooden bat as well as did the metal bat used at WVU.

The next summer, Gyorko’s season began at Lake Elsinore in “high” class A league. In 340 official at-bats, his average had settled at .365 and his home run number had grown to 18. San Diego moved him to San Antonio of the Class AA Texas League.

In 59 games at San Antonio to finish out the 2011 summer, his batting average was .288 and the RBIs numbered 40.

Last year, the early part of his minor league summer was spent back in San Antonio where in 34 games Gyorko hit .262 before being moved ahead to Tucson of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League.

Gyorko was still only 23 years old.

San Diego got what it wanted from the stocky third baseman.

He batted .328 with 369 official at-bats. In 92 games, there were 24 homers and 83 RBIs. Major league administrators like infielders who can average almost an RBI per game.

When spring training began in Arizona in mid-February, the Padres wanted to see what Gyorko could do at second base. On a vacant field, he spent numerous hours with an infield instructor learning everything he could concerning the footwork used on turning double plays and making throws to a shortstop/instructor. He took catcher’s throws on attempted steals.

All of this was happening after spring training games in the Cactus League had been completed. At times, Gyorko spent more time on a field after games learning a new position than he had spent playing an actual game in Scottsdale or Peoria.

After some collaboration, it was decided that Gyorko would be San Diego’s starting second baseman on opening day in New York against the Mets.

And so on Monday, April 1, in Citi Field, he was in the lineup at second. He had one of the four hits the Padres managed in taking an 11-2 pasting from the Metsies.

From University High where he followed his brothers through school, and then the short distance to West Virginia University, Gyorko has quickly progressed to the big leagues.

He could play some games at third base, but for now he’s the rookie second baseman who is starting and batting fifth for the San Diego Padres.

 

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